Presidential Address 2014

“Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good”: Affective Hermeneutics, Psalm 107, and Pentecostal Spirituality

in Pneuma
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Biblical studies have focused upon the rational content of the biblical text; even when utilizing rhetorical methods, they have virtually ignored the affective dimension of the biblical argument. Rhetoricians have shown that effective rhetoric includes affective argumentation, and recent studies have demonstrated the role of the affect in human decision making. It is argued here that no matter what methods are being used in biblical study, the affective dimension of the text should be taken into account. This article models the affective approach by means of a study of Psalm 107, which is shown to generate the affection of gratitude. The article then demonstrates how the affection of gratitude might be incorporated into Pentecostal spirituality and practice.

Presidential Address 2014

“Oh give thanks to the Lord for he is good”: Affective Hermeneutics, Psalm 107, and Pentecostal Spirituality

in Pneuma




Cf. Eugene GarverAristotle’s Rhetoric: An Art of Character (Chicago: University of Chicago Press1994) 104–138.


Dale M. Coulter“The Whole Gospel for the Whole Person: Ontology, Affectivity, and Sacramentality,” Pneuma 35 no. 2 (2013): 157.


Ibid.5052 63. See also Steven J. Land “A Passion for the Kingdom: Revisioning Pentecostal Spirituality” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 1 (1992): 34–35.


John Christopher Thomas“‘What the Spirit Is Saying to the Church’: The Testimony of a Pentecostal in New Testament Studies,” in Spirit and Scripture: Exploring a Pneumatic Hermeneuticed. Kevin L. Spawn and Archie T. Wright (New York: T & T Clark2012) 117. For more on a theological approach to the affections see Gregory S. Clapper John Wesley on Religious Affections: His Views on Experience and Emotion and Their Role in the Christian Life and Theology (Metuchen NJ: Scarecrow Press 1989) and Daniel Castelo “Tarrying on the Lord: Affections Virtues and Theological Ethics in Pentecostal Perspective” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 13 no. 1 (2004): 31–56.


Wolfgang VondeyPentecostalism: A Guide for the Perplexed (New York: T & T Clark2013) 139. He adds “… arising from the pursuit of affective knowledge Pentecostal scholarship dominated by the imagination rather than reason. … The imagination stands in contrast to the dominance of reason and order; it is more improvisational more playful than the productivity performance and instrumentality demanded by the established institutions disciplines languages and methodologies of the modern academy” (139).


James Muilenburg“Form Criticism and Beyond,” Journal of Biblical Literature 88 (1969): 1–18.


Aristotle and J.E.C. WelldonThe Rhetoric of Aristotle (London: Macmillan1886) 10.


Eryl W. DaviesBiblical Criticism (London: T & T Clark2013) 108.


Cf. ibid.107–112.


Coulter“The Whole Gospel” 158. Closely related to the discussion of affectivity and deserving of an entire study is the interpretation of biblical literature as art. Wayne C. Booth Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent (Notre Dame IN: University of Notre Dame Press 1974) argues that art “is of fundamental importance in making and changing our minds” (168). He writes “We are what we have consumed; we take in whatever takes us in and we are forever altered” (167).


Jonathan HaidtThe Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (New York: Pantheon Books2012) 107 cf. 34 103. My thanks to Walter Brueggemann for pointing me to Haidt’s book.




Robert O. Baker“Pentecostal Bible Reading: Toward a Model of Reading for the Formation of the Affections,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 7 (1995): 34–38. John Christopher Thomas The Apocalypse: A Literary and Theological Commentary (Cleveland TN: CPT Press 2012) pays close attention to the affective language of the Apocalypse. For my own contribution in this area see Lee Roy Martin “God at Risk: Divine Vulnerability in Judges 10:6–16” Old Testament Essays 18 no. 3 (2005): 722–740; idem “‘Where Are the Wonders?’: The Exodus Motif in the Book of Judges” Journal of Biblical and Pneumatological Research 2 (2010): 87–109; idem “Delight in the Torah: The Affective Dimension of Psalm 1” Old Testament Essays 23 no. 3 (2010): 708–727; idem “Longing for God: Psalm 63 and Pentecostal Spirituality” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 22 no. 1 (2013): 54–76.


Martin“Longing for God” 59–60.


Roffey“Beyond Reality: Poetic Discourse and Psalm 107” 70–71.




Roffey“Beyond Reality: Poetic Discourse and Psalm 107” 68–69.




Mejia“Some Observations on Psalm 107” 58.


GoldingayPsalms3.254 states that “the sacrifice makes the alleged gratefulness more than mere words.”


Cf. Ignacio Carbajosa Pérez“Salmo 107: Unidad, Organización y Teología,” Estudios Bíblicos 59 no. 4 (2001): 462–479.


Henry David Thoreau and Francis H. AllenWalden or Life in the Woods (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.1910) 8.


LandPentecostal Spirituality135.




St. John Chrysostom“Homily on Ephesians, 2,” Patrologia Graeca62.129–130.


Martin LutherLuther’s Small Catechism Developed and Explained (Philadelphia: United Lutheran Publication House1893) 8.


John WesleyThe Works of the Rev. John Wesley (10 vols.; Philadelphia: D. & S. Neall and W.S. Stockton1826) 7.253.


Karl BarthThe Knowledge of God and the Service of God According to the Teaching of the Reformation (trans. J.L.M. Haire and Ian Henderson; London: Hodder and Stoughton1949) 123.


Karl BarthChurch Dogmatics (trans. T.F. Torrance and Geoffrey William Bromiley; 5 vols.; Edinburgh: T & T Clark1936) 5.1.670.






See Scott A. Ellington“The Costly Loss of Testimony,” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 16 (2000): 48–59; idem “‘Can I Get a Witness’: The Myth of Pentecostal Orality and the Process of Traditioning in the Psalms” Journal of Pentecostal Theology 20 no. 1 (2011): 54–67.


J. Clinton McCann Jr.“Greed, Grace, and Gratitude,” in Performing the Psalmsed. Dave Bland and David Fleer (St. Louis MO: Chalice Press) 51–66.


MaysPsalms347. It might be argued that not everyone who calls upon God is delivered but Psalm 107 does not entertain that view. Nevertheless I include here a testimony of how Psalm 107 speaks even in death. My wife Karen and I had been married for only one year when her mother Ruby Luke was diagnosed with cancer. The prognosis was grim but we prayed and felt confident that God would not allow this saintly woman to die at such a young age (forty-eight). A steady stream of well-meaning Christian friends came to the hospital proclaiming that she would certainly be healed. Ruby’s brother-in-law Rev. S.A. Luke taking her illness seriously prayed earnestly with fasting. Uncle Archie as we call him had himself been healed of spinal meningitis and his daughter had been healed of leukemia. After three days the Lord gave him a Scripture verse which he read to Ruby. It was Ps 107:28–30 “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and He brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet; so He guided them to their desired haven.” Soon afterwards she left this troubled sea and arrived at her desired haven.


See Franz Schnider“Rettung aus Seenot: Ps 107,23–32 und Mk 4,35–41,” in Freude an der Weisung des Herrned. Ernst Haag and Frank-Lothar Hossfeld (Stuttgart: Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk 1986): 375–393 who connects Psalm 107 to Mark 4:35–41.

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